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Civils in the papers today - Tuesday 17 March 2009

The government ran into a storm of criticism yesterday after quietly closing its grant programme for solar energy last week, which campaigners said made a mockery of its commitment to build a low-carbon economy…

…The controversial low-carbon buildings programme is a grant system aimed at boosting renewable energies including wind, biomass and solar - The Guardian

The head of the new national planning body would leave most decisions on planning applications to his staff, despite drawing £184,000 a year for a four-day-a-week role, he told MPs yesterday. Sir Michael Pitt, who has been appointed as first chairman of the new Infrastructure Planning Commission, told MPs yesterday that his primary role will be coaching and mentoring the 35 other commissioners once the body is created in October - The Times

A £135 million plan to build a waste disposal unit that turns rubbish into electricity will be announced today. Plasma gasification converts carbon-based waste, including plastics, paper and left over food into gas, which is then burnt to generate power - The Times

British companies will be barred from nearly a third of the work on the construction of new nuclear reactors in the UK. Areva, the French group expected to make most of them, will produce key components in France and British companies will have to compete with the rest of the world for remaining work - The Times

The Competition Commission has begun to vet bidders for Gatwick to ensure that they are suitable candidates to run the UK’s second-busiest airport. The commission’s analysis comes as Easyjet, the low-cost airline, begins a High Court action today in an attempt to block price increases at the airport - The Times

Port profits at Forth Ports, the Edinburgh-based group, reached a record level in 2008, but the company reported overall losses after significant writedowns on its large property portfolio.Concerns over future property values combined with fears about the UK economic climate to prompt a big dividend cut. The recommended final will be 12p, to give a full-year pay-out of 28.6p, down from 47.7p - Financial Times

It was an unusual transaction from the very outset: an ailing construction firm’s balance sheet transformed through the injection of £11M in capital secured against the value of a huge ruby, the so-called Gem of Tanzania. But less than a week after the Shropshire-based Wrekin Group went into administration with the loss of around 400 jobs, matters have become more curious still, with no one apparently certain where the gem is, or indeed able to recall having ever set eyes on it - The Guardian

Stagecoach, operator of South West and East Midlands Trains has said it will cut further rail costs which is likely to cause industrial action - Daily Telegraph

Mining engineer Bateman Engineering has slumped to a dramatic first-half loss resulting in its controlling shareholder to ask it to be delisted from the stock market - Daily Telegraph

Port operator Forth Ports has cut its dividend to save £12M after property price falls - Daily Telegraph

Building materials group SIG is considering equity raising to control spiralling debts - Daily Telegraph

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